The PRO Model

Practice Group Report

This month we tried an activity based around the 'PRO' Model. This model was devised by Penny Tompkins and James Lawley to give facilitators a way to keep a client's attention on their desired outcome:

  • Start by asking the question, "And what would you like to have happen?" This invites a person to consider what they want or what they want more of. However, just because you invite someone to pay attention to their desired outcome doesn't mean they do so. Sometimes, people will focus on a problem and at other times the way they respond suggests that what they want is a remedy, a quick-fix: they want to 'not have' the problem.
  • If a person responds with a  problem, acknowledge it and ask "And what would you like to have happen?" again. For example, if a person says "I hate my boss," you would say: "And you hate your boss, and when you hate your boss, what would you like to have happen?"
  • If a person responds with a remedy, such as "I want to leave my job", you can get them to think about what they want rather than what they don't want, by saying: "And when you leave your job, then what happens?"
  • If a person responds with a desired outcome, such as "I want a new job", you will ask Clean Language questions to develop this outcome so they can get really clear about what kind of job and how to get it.

In our activity, we were in groups of 5, with one client, three facilitators and one observer. The three facilitators were each responsible for noticing one of the three kinds of response: problem, remedy or outcome - and asking an appropriate question. The observer was noting what happened.

In our group, we created an additional 'necessary condition' role, which arose once the client's outcome was clear; they might say "I need to look in the newspaper at the job adverts" for example. Then the person with that role would develop that with questions such as "What kind of newspaper?"

This activity was a lot of fun as we wrestled with each of the client's responses and decided which of us should be asking a question. We all took a turn in each of the roles, so got to experience the activity from all angles.

During the feedback session at the end of the meeting, the following points were made.

  • I got more insights into the difference between problems, remedies and outcomes.
  • I became more aware of the language - and even in a structured activity like this it was still possible to be carried away by the 'story'.
  • The context is important in deciding whether something is a problem, a remedy or an outcome.
  • Remedies can be difficult to spot. For example, one client said "I want to skip over the garden" which sounds like an outcome, but when we know that the garden in question is the untidy one that she doesn't like, then it's clearly a remedy.
  • Working in a three and discussing which of us was to ask a question meant I didn't feel any pressure to get the 'right' question. It was fun.
  • The Clean Language process is strong - I could come out of my client role, discuss which question to ask, then go back in it and answer it just as I would have done if there had been no discussion.
  • The first words the client says are all relevant.

Thank you to everyone who came to the group; I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!

Our next meeting is on Monday December 14th - and it would be great to see you there.

Tags: the pro model, practice group, clean language, james lawley, penny tompkins, clean questions

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About the author

Marian Way

Company Director & Trainer, Portchester, Fareham
A highly skilled facilitator and trainer, Marian, who founded Clean Learning in 2001, has developed and delivered training across the world. She is the author of Clean Approaches for Coaches, co-author, with James Lawley, of Insights in Space and co-author, with Caitlin Walker, of So you want to be... #DramaFree. Marian is an expert Clean facilitator, an adept modeller, a programme writer and an inspirational trainer. She has a natural ability to model existing structures, find the connections between them and design new ways for people to learn. Marian was a leading innovator within the Weight Watchers organisation, which included developing the “points” strategy, a local idea that went on to become a global innovation. She is a director of both Clean Learning and Training Attention CIC, world leaders in clean applications for corporate, educational and community development. She designs our programmes and workbooks, leads workshops and teaches on all our courses. She's trained people in Great Britain, Russia, Sweden, Germany, Australia, Japan and the USA. Marian is also a recognised Clean Assessor.

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